Rating: PG, Genre: Romance/Drama
Disclaimer: Everything is J.K. Rowling's!
The flames in the fireplace danced merrily, casting swaying, dark shadows on the wall. There was no other source of light and the room lay in semi-darkness, a state that added to the gloom of the winter night. The room was silent and the hooting of owls could be heard clearly from outside, in the Hogwarts grounds.
Ginny burrowed deeper into the chair, her head hidden in her arms and the huge cushions. The silence was comforting and upsetting at the same time. Tears coursed silently down her cheeks and she struggled to control her sobs. As she cried, memories of the evening came back to her…
Ginny searched through the towering racks of books, varying in sizes. It seemed impossible to find the small book she wanted in the masses before her. She sighed impatiently and resumed searching through the titles. Moments later, she sighed again and began to wonder if she'd ever be able to find the required book.
She felt a presence behind her and turned around – Pansy Parkinson, a fifth year Slytherin closely associated with Draco Malfoy. Ginny did not smile when Pansy glanced at her and both girls looked away, having deep feelings of hatred for each other. Pansy was searching in another rack, behind Ginny and Ginny simply ignored her and continued her search.
'Stupid bat…where do we look for Aura Enhancing Charms?'
Ginny recognized her brother's voice and paused in her task.
'Maybe it's in the Charms section? They haven't got many books in the Astronomy section…'
Harry, thought Ginny, recognizing the second voice. Harry and Ron were apparently on the other side of the rack in which she was searching. Cautiously, Ginny flipped a book to a side and she could see through a gap to the other side. She could see no one for a second, then – jet black hair. Ginny went slightly red.
'Why do we have to do those stupid charms anyway? There are no such things as Auras, then why do we need to enhance them?'
Ginny smiled. Ron was on his usual tirade against Astronomy. Harry hummed in response, as if not really listening. There was silence and as Harry's head moved slightly, Ginny replaced the book quickly, not wanting to be seen.
'Wait,' he said. 'Here's one – Auras and Absurdity!'
Ron chuckled. 'That's a good one and though I doubt it has any enhancing charms, I'd love to give it to Trelawney as a birthday gift!'
Ginny grinned as she resumed her search once again.
'Harry? Who're you planning to take to the Ball at Christmas?'
Ginny's finger paused abruptly at a book at those words. Harry was silent for a moment. Hesitating a second, Ginny moved a book to look through to the other side. Her heart skipped a beat – Harry's profile was in view through the tiny gap and she wished desperately that she wouldn't be caught. His brows were knitted ever so slightly.
'Er, I don't know…'
Ginny thought he looked slightly red. There was the sound of Ron chuckling softly but Ginny was already paling at the suspense. It meant so much to her.
'I mean, if you're asking Cho again, you'd have to do it quickly – Christmas is in two weeks,' said Ron and Ginny felt a strange lump form in her throat.
'Cho?' Harry asked, a blank expression on his face.
'Cho Chang. Don't tell me you forgot her…'
Harry moved a step forward and Ginny lost sight of him.
'I haven't forgotten her, it's just, you know… I can't work up the courage… I mean…'
Ginny felt her heart drop suddenly. Ron chuckled.
'Well, all you've got to do is go up to her like you did last time and pop the question.'
Ginny felt quite sick by that time.
'Er, I think that's what I'll do…' she heard Harry say. 'Maybe she's going with someone else already?' Ginny hoped it was so.
'Well,' said Ron, amusement evident in his tone. 'You'll have to ask someone else then, like last year. Parvati?'
'Okay, I get it, not Parvati,' said Ron, chuckling and Ginny felt temper flare up in her. Honestly, she thought, irritated.
'Well, if no one else does, I bet Ginny will be more than willing!'
Ginny pouted, her heart seemed as if it was in her throat. She could detect the humor in her brother's tone and it hurt. She whirled around, checking if anyone else was in earshot. She paled. Pansy was looking at her, smirking tauntingly and had apparently heard Ron and Harry quite clearly.
Ginny tried to put up a brave face. She turned back around and resumed the search for her book, not really looking at the rack. Her ears were beet red and she hoped and hoped she could somehow escape.
Harry hadn't spoken yet.
'What?' asked Ron. 'Don't fancy the idea?'
'No,' said Harry, hesitating. 'I guess, I mean… it's Ginny.'
Ron laughed and Ginny felt tears prick the corner of her eyes.
'Of course, it's Ginny. Don't look too horrified there, she's my sister – she'd be ecstatic, you being her first crush and all that.'
'Uh… yeah, I guess so…'
'I wanted to ask her who'd asked her to the Ball. I heard Lavender telling Parvati that Gregory Kent was going to ask Ginny to the Ball. I've heard things about that Gregory. We should probably keep an eye on Ginny,' said Ron, his tone slightly dark.
'Do you think she still has that crush on me?'
Ginny struggled to hold back her tears. Ron chuckled.
'Well, I don't know really but if she does, I hope it wears off. It's quite childish… and if it has worn off already, I'm quite glad. You don't need my little sister tagging along after you, do you? I don't mean anything bad but well… it's weird…'
'I guess so…' Harry said, flatly.
Ginny turned away from the rack quickly. She saw Pansy smirking at her. She'd almost forgotten Pansy had been there too. She had heard too…
'What? It's the truth, isn't it?'
Pansy's word turned Ginny into stone. The tears coursed down her face uncontrollably.
'Poor Weasley, you didn't want to hear that, did you?' said Pansy, enjoying the situation and purposely not caring to keep her voice low. Her eyes glinted mischievously.
'Poor Ginny Weasley,' she repeated, folding her arms and leaning against a large rack. There was a strange silence. Ginny grabbed her books from the rack and looked up. She was horrified by what she saw.
Harry had appeared at the end of the aisle, apparently after hearing Pansy taunting her. He looked quite shocked to see Ginny there; his eyes were wide and his mouth fell open slightly. Her gaze locked with Harry's and his eyes seemed to grow wider. Ron appeared at his shoulder suddenly.
Ginny glanced from Harry to Ron, the tears flowing freely and before anyone else could say a word, she had turned around and fled the other way, out of the Library.
Ginny didn't care to stop her tears. It was the only time of the day she could be alone properly, without any interference. She cried freely, sobbing into the armchair. Why had everything gone so wrong? He saw me…
Ginny hadn't eaten lunch or dinner. She had remained in her dormitory and refused to tell anything to her friends. She admitted to herself she didn't have many real friends apart from Hermione – and strangely, even Hermione hadn't come to ask about her. Ginny's sobs grew slightly louder and she tried to smother them but it instead caused her to tremble all over. Why doesn't anyone ever notice? Why am I always treated like a… nuisance? Why doesn't he see me for what I am?
Ginny got up from the chair abruptly, feeling terrible but trying to find peace in some resolve. She resolved not to go to the Ball at Christmas, no matter who asked her. She was sick of Balls. She was sick of everything. She turned to go back up to bed but stopped dead in her tracks.
Harry stood before her on the staircase, clad in pajamas, hair tousled and looking at her intently. Ginny took a moment to acknowledge the fact that Harry was standing in front of her, looking at her – then, she wiped her tears quickly and made for the girls' staircase.
'Ginny…' he called out to her. Ginny stopped and whirled around.
'What?' She tried to keep her voice calm but bubbling anger and hurt were making that difficult.
'I…' He faltered, looking very nervous. Ginny looked away and clenched her fist.
'What is it?'
She heard his feet padding on the carpet until he was standing before her. Ginny kept her gaze averted, not wanting to look at him directly.
'Ginny, I… want to apologize.' Something in his voice tugged at Ginny's heartstrings but her anger and hurt had reached higher levels.
'Apologize? For what?' She looked up, into his eyes, her gaze piercing right through him. 'It's the truth, isn't it? Who cares? Do I? I don't.'
Harry's eyes grew wide and a slight frown creased his face.
'Ginny, I really mean it… I didn't… I don't think of you as a… problem,' he managed, sounding very earnest. 'Believe me, whatever you heard today, it wasn't true…'
Ginny took a deep breath. 'What wasn't true? That I have a stupid, babyish crush on you? That you like Cho Chang and were planning to ask her to the Ball? That you and Ron think I'm a nuisance?'
'It isn't true, Ginny,' Harry pleaded. 'I didn't say that… I don't think you're a nuisance… I…'
To Ginny, it felt that there was truth in what Harry was saying. She looked up at him and saw his emerald eyes gazing at him. She looked back at him for a second, searching his eyes.
'I'm sorry, too, I… I'm just stupid… I shouldn't have…'
Harry took her hands suddenly.
'You can't blame yourself for something you didn't do…' He looked at her with wide eyes and Ginny felt herself blush for the first time since she had seen him that night. Their gazes locked as they had done in the Library but this time, there was something soft and peaceful. Somehow, Ginny understood he was still holding her hands in his and before she could think further…
She blinked. Harry smiled slightly but then the smile faded again and he seemed to be searching for words to say something.
'Ginny… I… I mean… would you go with me to the Christmas Ball?'
Ginny snapped out of all thoughts and stepped back abruptly. Harry let go of her hands in surprise.
'I…' He couldn't understand he expression on her face.
'It is true, after all… everything's true… you can't deny you wanted to go the Ball with Cho Chang! Today, in the library, you yourself said you were planning to ask her! I don't need you to take pity on me… no one does… I am not going to the Ball and you Mr. Potter, can keep your white lies to yourself!'
Ginny said all of this in a single breath, her anger returning in full force at the turn of events. It was Harry's turn to feel hurt.
'Ginny, it's not that way! I… I only said that to Ron… he doesn't now… I don't want to ask Cho Chang. I don't deny I liked her a lot last year but that was a crush, I know now…'
He paused to take a breath and then continued in a softer tone than before.
'I am not taking pity on you… I really did want to ask you to the Ball… but I couldn't tell Ron yet…'
Ginny's eyes grew wide.
'You… you wanted to ask me to the Ball?'
Harry stepped closer to her.
'Please, will you go with me?'
Ginny looked up at him intently and then looked away, not knowing what to make of the fast pace of the events.
'I really do like you,' he said, softly.
Her gaze snapped to his and he took hold of her hand once again. Slowly, Ginny smiled for the first time that night. Harry's eyes seemed to sparkle at that; Ginny's smile grew wider and with a tear of happiness in her eyes, she hugged him, taking him by surprise and then hurried up the staircase to her dormitory.
The arm around her waist seemed to have drawn her closer and Ginny looked up. Harry smiled lopsidedly, making her blush profusely. He took her hand and twirled her on the polished marble floor. Ginny grinned, wondering if she'd ever been so happy before. He drew her closer again, as the music changed from fast to slow. More couples came on to the dance floor at the change of music. So far, the Christmas Ball was a terrific success.
Ginny looked up at Harry and giggled. His smile vanished.
'What? Is it my hair? Sorry, it's being as impossible as always!'
Ginny smiled. 'No… it's just… everything. Everything's so wonderful…'
Harry smiled and slowly let go of her hand. She was surprised but blushed at the way he was looking at her – as if full of admiration. She looked perfect in robes of midnight blue that sparkled silver.
She grinned again and this time Harry blushed.
'Er… you're looking really nice.'
'Thanks. Your hair looks great just the way it is,' Ginny replied, blushing slightly. Harry looked a little surprised but he smiled.
'Really? No one's ever said that before… I always thought it must look horrendous.' Ginny giggled and then felt his arm on her waist. He took hold of her hand once again and they danced to the delicate music until it faded off into silence and a thunderous applause erupted from the students.
Ginny's heart pounded as she and Harry stepped into the Commonroom where excited and happy Gryffindors, returning from the Ball, were saying their "Goodbyes" and "Goodnights". She had reasons for being so scared and happy and excited and warm all at the same time. They had come back right after the Ball had been over and the Commonroom was only beginning to fill up.
Harry led her to the staircase where they'd separate and go to their respective dormitories. He turned to her, looking slightly red himself.
'I'm really glad I asked you, it's been a wonderful evening,' he said. Her hand was still in his and she smiled shyly.
'Thanks… it really was wonderful.'
Harry was looking at her in a way that was making her heart pound inside her. His eyes were wide and sparkling and he was smiling slightly.
'I'm glad Ron didn't kill us…' she managed. Harry grinned.
'Uh, yeah… I was worried about that. I have to thank Hermione… she didn't let Ron launch himself on me… at least during the Ball. I don't know what's going to happen when I go up to bed…'
'We'll see about Ron later… as it is, I've got a pending score to settle with him.'
Harry grinned. Ginny suddenly glanced at something behind Harry and her eyes widened in part excitement and part fright.
'It's Ron! He's back!'
Harry turned to see Ron coming into the Commonroom, extending his hand to help Hermione get through.
'He's going to ruin this…' Ginny muttered to herself.
'Here,' said Harry and lead Ginny past the stairs to a dark corner, hidden behind the staircase.
Ginny craned her neck and saw Ron walk up to the staircase with Hermione at his arm. At the foot of the staircase, Hermione turned to Ron, stood on her toes and kissed him. Ginny looked away and turned around, blushing slightly. She turned around again to see Ron going up his staircase, his ears very clearly red.
She turned back to see Harry gazing at her again in the semi darkness.
'It… it's clear, Ron's gone,' she said. There was a strange silence and Ginny suddenly felt oddly uneasy.
'I guess I'll be going then,' she said and took a small step backward.
'Uh… yeah,' said Harry, turning quite red.
Ginny suddenly felt like laughing. Honestly, boys are quite stupid…
Trying not to blush, Ginny reached up and kissed Harry softly on his cheek. She felt him tense underneath her touch before she stepped back, her face turning red.
'Goodnight, then,' she mumbled and turned around but Harry took her hand and she had to face him. He was looking at her, eyes wide and before she knew what was happening, he had pulled her closer and brushed his lips on hers, just as softly as she had and then more passionately.
When they parted several moments later, Harry was grinning, his eyes sparkling and Ginny knew, as she reached up to hug him, that things between them would never be the same again.
Ginny sat at the edge of her seat, trembling slightly with suspense. Her eyes followed the maroon clad figure with jet-black hair, zooming on his Firebolt, in the sky above her. If only he could find the Snitch soon…
A loud gong sounded and Ginny checked the scoreboard. The crowd in the stand was making so much noise, she couldn't hear Lee's commentary.
'Seventy five to seventy…where's Harry? He's got to find the Snitch!'
Hermione was beside herself with excitement, just like Ginny and both of them looked skywards for the Snitch.
'Oh look!' Ginny shrieked, pointing upwards. Harry and the Ravenclaw Seeker, Cho Chang, now a seventh year, were racing towards the ground, concentrating on a particular point. The Snitch was visible, hovering just above the ground near the Gryffindor goal-hoops. The crowd was shouting itself hoarse and everyone was on their feet.
Cho had a broomstick, Lightning 5, which was slightly advanced than the Firebolt that Harry had and she blocked his path by coming in front of him. Not wasting a moment, Harry titled his broom into a near-vertical dive and flew underneath her, surpassing her.
Ginny clutched the railing of the stands tightly, her knuckles white with pressure. Her eyes followed Harry's every move with fright, concern and excitement. Suddenly, Madam Hooch's whistle sounded shrilly throughout the pitch. Harry had pulled out of the dive and clutched tightly in his fingers was the golden Snitch.
'Gryffindor wins!' Madam Hooch announced and the Gryffindors broke into thunderous applause.
Ginny pushed through the crowd with Hermione and found her way onto the pitch where all the team members were hugging each other and congratulating Harry. Harry saw Ginny and eyes alight with happiness, he hugged her tightly, her scarlet hair flying all around her.
'You won! You've won the Quidditch cup!' she said, her happiness reflected in the twinkle of her eyes. He held her to himself for longer than was usual, the tips of his fingers tingling with excitement.
'Can we have our share of hugs too?' Ron asked innocently and Harry, pulling away from Ginny, managed to smack him on the head.
Ginny couldn't believe it was happening and she didn't want to either. She sat curled up on the couch, waiting. Harry wasn't down yet… but he would be soon. And the tears flowed at that very thought. He didn't care…
But what she had overheard earlier was true… and he was hiding that from her. She sat silently for a long time. She wasn't a little girl anymore. She was almost into her seventh year and she wished they would treat her as a grown up. She wished he had cared for her.
She heard footsteps coming down the boys' staircase, slowly and cautiously. She knew who it was. On that specific day, at exactly four a.m., no one but he could come down the staircase and she kept her gaze trained at the bottom step.
He stepped into the Commonroom and his eyes went wide at the sight of her, curled up in the armchair. She waited a moment, letting herself take in everything that he had become. He wasn't the eleven year old who had first entered Hogwarts. No one would have thought that that little kid with knobbly knees could ever turn into the seventeen-year-old standing before her. He had become taller, much more sturdy and mature. His emerald eyes, that had seen so much over the years, pain, sorrow, death, happiness, love… now watched her. Slowly, the shock wore off and he no longer seemed to stand so tall. He bent his head slightly but was still looking at her.
'Gin…' he said, almost in a whisper, dropping his small handbag on the bottom staircase. Ginny looked away.
'Go.' It was as simple as that.
She opened her mouth to say something else but her throat felt constricted. Harry stepped off the staircase, towards her, his brow furrowing in concern. She turned her head to the side, not looking at him but staring unseeingly into the fire.
'Ginny, I –'
'I don't need any explanations,' she said, slowly but clearly, still staring into the fire. 'Just try to imagine that this Commonroom is empty and I'm not here.'
There was silence, Ginny felt her eyes brimming with tears… she was hurt and saddened. The next moment Harry was beside her. Se didn't need to look up at him. He had pulled her to her feet and then wrapped his arms around her. She didn't say anything, didn't hug him back or even pull away. He held her for a full minute in silence, then looked down at her. She looked up, surprised to see tears pouring down his face.
'Ginny, I'm sorry,' he whispered, his voice trembling.
'Harry, why didn't you tell me?' She asked first thing that came to her mind.
'I'm sorry,' he said again, his green eyes searching hers, 'I didn't want to hurt you.'
'And how would I have felt when I woke and found you missing? It's like you didn't care about me.'
Harry took her face in his hands, his expression serious, 'I do care about you Ginny… if I had told you, it would have hurt me too… I wouldn't have been able to leave.'
She looked back at him intently for a long time, wishing he wouldn't go. Then, he proved himself capable of reading minds.
'Ginny, I have to go. You know that.'
Ginny put her arms around him and hugged him tightly. She had always known the day would come. She stepped back after a long time, her eyes sparkling with tears. Harry wiped them away, then bent down and kissed her, holding on until sanity returned and he forced himself to pull away.
'I'll be back,' he said, then kissed her again. 'I love you.'
Ginny lay in bed, staring up at the ceiling of the room. She was back in the Burrow. It had been more than a year since Harry had left her and now, even she was out of Hogwarts. But he hadn't returned. They said he had gone for the final battle but she didn't really want to believe that. They said he was seeking Voldemort at that very moment and that now victory depended only on him. The Aurors could do nothing. That night, something decisive was going to take place. Either evil would reign or peace would be born again, out of the ashes of that battle between good and evil.
She couldn't go to sleep. Not tonight. He was out there… fighting for every person on earth. All alone. She sent him all the love she had for him, all her prayers for him. And she waited. Slowly, sleep overcame her and she drifted into unconsciousness.
She felt as if she was dreaming. It was dark and oddly, the place felt familiar. She was in her room at the Burrow. She wondered if she was dreaming or was really awake. Suddenly, there was a slight popping sound but her mind was too drowsy to register much thought. She heard some shuffling sound beside her, a whispered incantation and she was suddenly overcome with more drowsiness, if that was possible. The only thing she felt before drowning in sleep once again was her mattress sinking slightly and then someone's strong, sturdy arms around her.
Ginny opened one eye blearily. There was too much sunlight in the room and it hurt her eyes. She found her wand beneath her fingers and almost unthinkingly charmed the curtains into a darker, light repellent shade. It was then that she saw the mop of black hair beside her, buried in her pillow – and the pair of arms around her. It was so good, so right, that she hadn't even felt it. That hair looked just like Harry's, she thought, her mind still half asleep. The next moment, she was fully awake. Slowly, her heart thudding noisily, she lifted her head. She didn't have to look. Harry's embrace was far too familiar… it felt as if he had never gone at all. Slowly, not realizing the full meaning of Harry being back, she simply gazed at him, weaving her fingers through his hair, coarser but still shooting up in all directions.
Suddenly, the head lifted from her shoulder and she found herself staring into emerald eyes again, now looking more mature, more knowing. They focused on her and then blinked. He let out a shuddering sigh and they hugged each other, not caring to think anymore.
'Gin…' Harry whispered, feeling her soft, crimson hair and burying his face in it, slipping his arms around her waist and pulling her closer. When the initial rush of emotions subsided, Harry pulled back but only enough to look at her, their noses touching. His face broke into a watery grin.
'I told you I'd come back.'
He held her fingers gently, lifted her hand and twirled her around, her ivory gown flowing around her feet. Her face was alight with smiles and was dazzled by her beauty that day. He pulled her closer, moving in time with the soft music, one of her hands in his. He felt a little band on a finger of her left hand and grinned. She stepped closer as the music faded away, and rested her head on his shoulder. He put his arms around her, feeling complete in every possible way. They had made it.
Ginny raised herself on an elbow, letting the memories wash over her one by one… that day in the library in her fourth year… the Christmas Ball… their first kiss…
She smiled, gazing lovingly at the person lying next to her, totally oblivious to the fact that someone was looking at him. He really does look so innocent and peaceful when he's asleep, she thought to herself. She looked at him for a long time, peacefully cherishing all those wonderful memories. They were creating memories every day.
Slowly, carefully, she lowered herself to where she had been before, nestled right next to him. Her back hurt terribly but it wasn't something she couldn't live through. He suddenly moved beside her and his hand rested on her back. She felt him move closer and then his hand was slowly rubbing her back, easing the tension in her muscles. She smiled with relief.
'Thanks,' she murmured. Harry responded by softly kissing her forehead.
'I feel guilty about you having to go through all this –'
She silenced him very effectively with a kiss, chuckling.
'Sure,' she said, 'you can take care of his dirty laundry.'
'His. I'm the mother here. I am supposed to know!'
Harry grinned at her in the darkness and pulled her closer, kissing her and laying his arm around her large abdomen.
'Harry, don't you dare say that ever again!'
'Okay, okay! Gin…'
'Not to you, to him.'
'Gin, are you sure?'
'Definitely. Sirius James Potter.'
'Oh well, Carolyn Rose Potter… there's always next time.'
A chuckle. 'Harry!'
There were more memories to be created.
Author's Short Note: Just something that I thought of… and I love it. If you do, will you review, pleaaase?